After a surprising loss to Sean Strickland, former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is planning an extended leave of absence from the Octagon.
In an interview with New Zealand radio station The Rock to promote the documentary Stylebender, Israel Adesanya opened up about what his future as a two-time former belt holder may look like. Instead of picking right back up to reclaim the throne as he did in the five months between dropping the title to Alex Periera at UFC 287 and avenging that KO loss at UFC 293, Adesanya is looking to take a break from competition but stopped short of permanently hanging up the gloves.
“Four months, four fights, as a champion. Find any other champion apart from me and Volk [Alexander Volkanovski] who is as active…it’s not just the fights, it’s the training and everything. Now I’m going to take time to look after myself, and I’m not going to fight for a long time. I’m definitely not going to retire because I know myself. I’m not leaving like that,” Adesanya said. “But if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else. But I know what I can do and what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need to be. I’m going to heal myself up. You won’t see me fight for a long time,” he continued.
Israel Adesanya record: 24-3 (16 KOs)
Israel Adesanya’s intentions to sit on the sidelines for a while might come as a surprise to fans. Since the Nigerian-born Kiwi made his UFC debut in 2018, he has stepped in the cage 16 times compiling a 13-3 record under the banner. After becoming one of the most active champions in the promotion’s history, Adesanya ultimately decided to halt the breakneck pace instead of attempting to even the score against the massive underdog. “If I wanted to, I would’ve,” he said when being asked about another potentially getting an immediate rematch against Strickland.
As far as what he plans to do with his free time without grueling training camps preparing for the next challenge, Israel Adesanya wants to simply enjoy life. “I got a passport, I got time, and I got money…I might spin the globe.”
The “Last Stylebender” gave no indication of how long he plans to watch the division he lorded over for the better part of 4 years as a spectator. However, when he does make his return there will undoubtedly be no shortage of viable opponents. A grudge match with South African contender Dricus Du Plessis, a rematch with Strickland, or even a return to light heavyweight could very well be ahead for Adesanya.
Israel Adesanya offered a warning to whoever will be standing across from the cage when he returns. “When I come back, f***ing run for the hills.”